Making the World Better for the Future: Through discussing current social and cultural issues in Japanese

A Project Prototype by Noriko Fujioka-Ito

published on Oct 1, 2016

The ultimate goal of this project is to compare and contrast two cultures in an effort to mutually understand other cultures and develop intercultural competence by attempting to find solutions of global issues such as global warming, environmental destruction and declining birth rate. The students engaged in this PBLL project will be enrolled in the second course during fourth-year Japanese language and culture course at the university level, which targets the advanced mid-level of proficiency according to ACTFL guidelines. The objects of this course are to be able to (1) handle linguistic challenges in complicated and unexpected situations using appropriate communicative strategies, and (2) develop the ability to build and convey the oral and written forms with accuracy and fluency on a variety of topics in formal and informal situations as well as from concrete and abstract perspectives. Almost all students’ native languages are English.

Culture and Interculturality

In this project, the students will develop an understanding of how other parts of the world are constructed by focusing on Japan, whose culture is distinctively differently from US culture, and conceptualize what and how global issues should be solved using a variety of resources and exchanging ideas with people who understand aspects of other countries, especially Japan.

For example, current declining birth rates will create a super-aging society within two decades in Japan. This low birth rate is a reflection of Japanese cultural aspects. The economic situation of Japan is not as good as it was in the 20th century. As a result, both partners in a marriage need to have jobs. In that case, Japanese women have many more responsibilities because it is customary that women maintain the house and take primary responsibility for raising the children, even though gender equality has been established by law. This situation prevents many women from getting married or having children in order to avoid such increased hardships in their lives. Through learning and analyzing these cultural and social aspects, students will further develop their intercultural understanding by identifying socio-economic differences and environmental issues in different countries.

Language

In this project, the learner’s communication areas will be improved as follows:

 

[Interpersonal] When conducting interviews and debate, students will exchange opinions and negotiate meaning with people in Japan and classmates. After the final presentations, students will interact with the audience during the Q &A sessions.

[Interpretive] Students will (1) read and comprehend the books and open educational resources, and (2) watch and understand video clips regarding global issues including social issues in Japan.

 

[Presentational] After studying global and social issues in Japan and conceptualizing how to solve the problems, students will discuss with interviewees of Cultura and debate their viewpoints about effective ways of improving Japanese society and the rest of the world with their fellow students. Then, students will write a draft of the narrations in the video that discusses the findings through resources based on the topics (e.g., environmental destruction and declining birth rate) they chose. For the last product, students will present their videos to an authentic audience attending a world cultural event inspired by a unique blend of diverse cultural groups from the local community.

The language knowledge that will be assessed is whether students can discuss global issues, particularly focusing on comparisons with Japan, using specialized terminology in complex sentence structures providing coherent, extended discourse.

As a final project, students will produce videos using still and moving images that depict different cultural scenes with a narration that includes their insights about the target culture. The videos produced as a final product will be shown during the World Culture Festival in a local community. After showing the video, the students of this project will have an opportunity to discuss a variety of topics related to current issues and develop their insights about Japanese culture and society with the audience.

Time frame for this project is approximately one month.

 

Overview files comments

Preparing for the Project

Video viewing

Vocabulary learning

Authentic material reading

Launching the Project

Research

Questionnaire survey and follow-up interview

Debate

Video production

Video presentation and discussion

Managing the Project

Technology

Time difference between two countries

Language use during the presentation in the local community

Assessment

Debate

Video production

Video presentation and discussion

None

Language use during the presentation in the local community

Implementation Info

Implementation information not specified.

Preparing for the Project

Video viewing

 

Students will watch the video in order to familiarize themselves with the topic “Global Challenges,” which is the best introduction to the key issues of the 21st Century and demonstrates an understanding of what kinds of social, environmental, and economical problems the world faces.

 

Youtube Video “WhatAre The World’s Biggest Problem?”

 

Technology Tips

 

Youtube Video “What Are The World’s Biggest Problem?” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY9nxG2ZQ7w]

 

Vocabulary learning

 

Students will learn the words of 15 Global Challenges in Japanese so as to be able to utilize the terms when developing ideas, deepening their understanding of issues, developing their projects and making effective presentations.

 

The handout (Vocabulary Worksheet), which contains 15 key issues written in English, will be distributed to students.  Students will fill in the parenthesis above each issue in Japanese.

 

Authentic material reading

 

Students will read the charts and tables in two publications from Japanese government offices in order to identify how aging and population decline affect Japanese society and finances and discuss how these issues should be solved.                                                                                                             

 

                                                                       [Handout (Reading Activities)]

 

Article 1: “The declining and agingpopulation in Japan and economic integration toward new prosperity in EastAsia”published by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan [English Version]

 

1)      Students will learn about the difference in size between the labor population in 2015 and the predicted population in 2025 by reading the chart that depicts the effects of aging and a declining population on the economy.

 

2)      Students will conceptualize future problems in Japan, comparing the change in labor population between 2015 and 2025, and discuss future problems in a small group.

 

 

 

Article 2: “Issues on aging and declining population and finance”published by Ministry of Education, Cultural, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan [Japanese Version]

 

1)      Students will learn about population predictions for 2050 and 2100 by reading the graph that shows the change in total population in Japan, and what percentages of population will increase, respectively, compared to those in 2000.

 

2)      Students will predict what Japanese society will be like in 2050 and 2100, and discuss their predictions in a small group.

 

Launching the Project

Research

 

In this PBLL project, students will need to research on elements of sociology and environmentology, using the appropriate grammar, vocabulary, and communicative skills in the target language. The students will learn about the content in these disciplines using open educational resources and through interactions while interviewing and discussing relevant topics with Japanese people.

 

 

Open educational resources which are suggested to read and watch:

 

Language

Level

Author

Resource Type

License

Original Source Link

English

University

K. Emanuel,

S. Seager, D. Cziczo, D. McGee

Lecture Note

CC-BY-NC-SA

MIT Courseware

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/earth-atmospheric-and-planetary-sciences/12-340-global-warming-science-spring-2012/

English

General (Adult)

S. Hallegatte, et. al.

Text

CC-BY

The World Bank, Open Knowledge Repository

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/3670

Japanese

University

K. Kai

Video

Not reported

Nagoya University

http://ocw.nagoya-u.jp/index.php?lang=ja&mode=c&id=299&page_type=index

Japanese

General (Adult)

A. Morita

Text

Not reported

National Institute of Population and Social Security Research

http://203.181.211.2/pr-ad/j/soshiki/ipss_j2014.pdf

 

 

 

Questionnaire survey and follow-up interview

 

Students will conduct a questionnaire survey and follow-up interviews with the students from a university in Japan. Based on the cultural, social, or environmental aspect that students selected, a questionnaire survey will be conducted using online survey tools (e.g., SurveyMonkey). After collecting the survey data, students will conduct interviews with students in the target culture community addressing the questions that emerged from data collected from the questionnaire survey to further develop intercultural competence and 21st century skills (e.g., critical thinking skills) through synchronous communication platform like Skype.

 

Debate

 

Students will conduct debate on the topic of how we can make the world better in the future for the purposes of understanding different viewpoints about global issues. The possible topic would be a super-aging society within two decades in Japan that will be created due to low birth rate. Students will be divided into two groups—students who support men’s childcare leave belong in Group 1; the second group is comprised of those who allow more foreigners to work for revitalization of the economy in Japan. After the discussion, students will write the short summary paper which indicates their positions including the reasons. The objective of the paper is to develop organizational skills by synthesizing data and summarizing information.

 

Video production

 

Students will write a narration including the data obtained from questionnaire survey and interviews, the findings written in the paper after debate, an analysis of cultural aspects and social issues in Japan, and suggestions for solutions to the global problems the world faces. After feedback will be provided by the teacher, students will revise their drafts before inserting them into their videos.

After finishing revising their drafts, students will produce a video using video making software (e.g., MovieMaker or iMovie) for presentation to an authentic audience.

 

Video presentation and discussion

 

Students will present a video and then discuss social issues and reflect on Japanese culture with the audience visiting the World Culture Festival in the local community. Furthermore, the students of this project will have an opportunity to discuss a variety of topics related to social issues and develop their insights about Japanese culture and society with the audience after showing their videos.

 

Managing the Project

Technology

 Technologies which will be used to support language learning are media (e.g., YouTube and Open Educational Resources) to develop listening and reading skills as well as deepen students’ understanding of the topics they are interested in. For Cultura, online survey tools such as Survey Monkey will be used to conduct questionnaire surveys. For follow-up interviews, synchronous communication platforms (e.g., Skype) will be utilized. Furthermore, the course management system (e.g., Blackboard Discussion Forum) will be used to share information, exchange opinions and provide peer feedback by posting comments about a draft of the video scripts. For video production, video making software (e.g., Movie Maker) will be used.

 

 

 

 

Time difference between two countries

 

Students will conduct interviews with people in Japan. In order to solve the problem of the fourteen-hour (thirteen-hour in summer) time difference, the interviews will be conducted as homework.

 

Language use during the presentation in the local community

 

The learners’ second language will be used in all stages of the project, except when they cannot sustain communication with students in the target culture community. In addition, English subtitles will be added to their videos so that a wider audience can watch them. At Q & A session after playing the videos during the World Culture Festival, communication is delivered in L1 or L2 depending on the audience language preference.

 

Assessment

Debate

After debate, feedback will be provided regarding the following five criteria—1) organization, 2) accuracy of information, 3) rebuttal, 4) accuracy of language use, and 5) respect for other team, using “DebateRubric.”

 

 

 

 

Video production

 

Feedback will be provided by the teacher usingVideo Narration Draft Rubric and “Culture Knowledge Rubric,” to evaluate the video narration draft which demonstrates the students’ understanding global issues focusing on the topics they are interested in and discusses their viewpoint toward Japanese culture and the world in the future.

The criteria of “Video Narration Draft Rubric” are 1) Organization, 2) Understanding of topic, 3) Accuracy of information, 4) Completion of work, and 5) Accuracy of language use.

“Culture Knowledge Rubric” is comprised of the following six criteria—1) Knowledge (Culture self-awareness), 2) Knowledge (Knowledge of culture worldview frameworks), 3) Skills (Empathy), 4) Skills (Verbal and nonverbal communication), 5) Attitudes (Curiosity), and 6) Attitudes (Openness).

 

Video presentation and discussion

 

Video presentations will be evaluated based on the accuracy of language use, appropriateness of cultural information, organization, and responses to audience questions. The criteria of “Video Presentation Rubric” are 1) Organization, 2) Accuracy of language use, 3) Understanding of topic, 4) Accuracy of information, 5) Understanding of different culture, and 6) Comprehension.

 

None

Language use during the presentation in the local community

 

The learners’ second language will be used in all stages of the project, except when they cannot sustain communication with students in the target culture community. In addition, English subtitles will be added to their videos so that a wider audience can watch them. At Q & A session after playing the videos during the World Culture Festival, communication is delivered in L1 or L2 depending on the audience language preference.

 

Implementation Info

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